Amy and I are huge supporters (and collectors) of the visual arts. The Denver Art Museum is in the process of building an extension to the museum which is a revolutionary piece of architecture. When completed in 2006, I predict it will do for Denver what the Guggenheim Bilbao did for Bilbao, Spain – namely transform Denver into one of the must-visit arts communities in the world.
I’ve been a member of the Denver Art Museum Technology Advisory Board for the past year, helping Bruce Wyman and his team think about how technology will be involved in the new art museum. Tonight, I hosted 30 folks in the Boulder/Denver high tech / venture capital community for a tour of the new building (under construction), a presentation from Bruce on what he’s up to, and some time with Daniel Libeskind, the amazing architect behind The Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building.
I am in love with Daniel. Amy and I got to have dinner with him last fall and I spent two hours watching the two of them rap about an incredible range of subjects. I love the architect brain – it’s a complex combination of artist and engineer – and Daniel epitomizes what is great about it. The Hamilton will be the first completed Libeskind building in the US, which is extremely cool for Denver. Daniel is deeply engaged with the Denver community, very committed to the incredible building he has designed, and full of energy and vision for what it will be when it’s completed.
As we were touring the building, Dave Jilk made the comment to me that this building could not have physically been built 5 years ago. Dave X – the site manager (I can’t remember his last name) told us that they couldn’t have built it 2 years ago as the architectural design requires an incredible amount of computer technology, 3D visualization technology, and significant spatial placement technology (everything in all three dimensions is exactly where it is supposed to be – there is no room for any margin of error or the building won’t physically work). The detailed level of architectural design is unbelievable and simply awe inspiring.
The following anecdote will help, especially if you haven’t seen the building. Last night, Daniel gave a presentation to 1500 museum members about the new building. During Q&A, someone asked him how he felt about the fact that the 1776 Freedom Tower now has a right angle in it (I won’t go into the story of the new World Trade Center site – Daniel is the master architect for the site – but – as one could expect, there are incredible politics and contentious issues at play in the development of the site). Daniel – who is known for avoiding using right angles in his designs, said something like “It’s not that I have issues with right angels, it’s just that I think we live in a democracy and there are 359 other angels that should get their chance.”
Bruce did great tonight. His goal is to incorporate technology into the museum experience in a way that’s revolutionary – taking the best of what others have done, avoiding the typical traps and pitfalls, and trying to have the technology blend into the experience to be a complete part of it, rather than the appendage that technology often is in a museum setting. It’s super fun to work with a blank slate on a canvas such as the Hamilton Building – and it’s great to see our local tech community getting engaged in the project.
I’m obviously extremely psyched about the Hamilton Building on many levels, including the positive impact I believe it will have on the Denver arts community and our standing as an internation destination site for more than just skiing and the Avs (if they ever play again). Wow – tonight was fun.